|Voted college baseball's Player of the Year, Nebraska's Alex Gordon was a sure thing...|
These guys can be found at all levels of competitive baseball. Their talent is undeniable - they have tools that every other guy in that dugout could only dream of. Some guys may have blazing speed, a couple have light tower power, and a few can throw a baseball harder than you thought humanly possible. So, why aren't these guys any good?
Sure these guys have talent, but they're not quality baseball players - not yet, at least. They have all the ingredients to be a perennial All-Star, but something's off. Whether it's a better understanding of the game, an adjustment to a higher level, or simply learning how to deal with failure, there is a change that needs to be made - and until they overcome this obstacle, they will always remain a project.
In college, a project is that top recruit that has a tough time making the jump from high school to college ball. He comes to campus highly touted, and before he's even laced up his fall-ball spikes, the head coach has him penciled into February's opening day lineup. But as the Fall progresses, he doesn't deliver. He has trouble making the adjustment to better competition - he looks overmatched. What's going on? This was our top recruit, he's a great player - what's wrong with him?
It is at this moment when the special attention kicks in. Suddenly, there's personal BP with the hitting coach before and after practice; personal bullpen sessions with the pitching coach dissecting every release; one-on-one filming sessions, private meetings, practice plans based around this individual player's needs - the coaching staff goes into full panic mode and the project has become the program's main focus.
The coaches recruited this kid to be an immediate impact player. When they saw him play in high school, their expert analysis indicated he would be ready - there's no way they could be wrong, right? I mean, scouting is part of their job, they're professionals - they couldn't have messed this one up. And just like that, it's all about them. This kid will represent their ability to analyze talent for years to come. Their reputations and egos are on the line, and they will do everything in their power to make sure this recruit becomes the great player they projected him to be.